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Modi Government Adds New Hurdle For Dalit Students To Avail Special Research Fellowship

The new guidelines are unjust and a move to exclude Dalit students from higher education, said  BJP Lok Sabha MP Udit Raj.

To secure the special research fellowship meant for Dalit students, qualification of Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) through the National Eligibility Test (NET) has been made mandatory.

According to a report in The Telegraph, the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s decision to add this new criterion has been met with criticism and opposition, even from within the party. BJP Lok Sabha MP Udit Raj — who is also the national chairman of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations — has criticised the move saying it would limit the ability of Dalit students to access research opportunities.

“The new guidelines are unjust and a move to exclude Dalit students from higher education,” he said on December 28, at a press conference held by the Delhi University Teachers Association to protest the “attack on reservation in educational institutions”.

The National SC, ST, OBC Student and Youth Front, a Delhi-based group, too has written to the University Grants Commission (UGC) chairperson against changing the eligibility criterion for the Dalit fellowship.

According to the report, of the 8,000 JRFs awarded every year, there is a 15 per cent Scheduled Caste quota covering 1,200 seats. The Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship for Dalit students, on the other hand, was given to students who skipped or failed the National Eligibility Test (NET). However, students now fear that the special Dalit fellowship for 1,000 students, renamed as National Fellowship for Scheduled Caste Students in October, would now in effect be absorbed by the JRF’s Scheduled Caste quota.

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